BBC the New Hammer of the Scots 136

I’d Hammer out Danger – I’d Hammer Out a Warning

BBC anti-Scots propaganda is moving beyond the risible towards the truly chilling. On the 26 April the first words on Reporting Scotland, issued by Unionist poster girl Sally Magnusson (no nepotism there) in sepulchral tones, were “There is a warning tonight” – that nobody, public or private , would get their pension paid properly after independence.

This gave my friend Kirsten a feeling of deja vu, and she did a quick trawl of the BBC’s continued and repetitive use of the words “Scottish independence” and “warning” in the same sentence. This is what she came up with:

“Scottish independence: Pension shortfall warning”

“UK Treasury warning that an SNP plan for a currency union after independence”

“Scottish independence: Warning over ‘weakened military'”

“Scottish independence: ‘Havoc’ warning from pensions firm”

“Scottish independence: Luxembourg warns against ‘going separate ways'”

“Scottish independence: Barroso warning on EU membership”

“Scottish independence: Michael Moore issues warning over vote question”

“Scottish independence: ‘Border checks’ warning from home secretary”

And I can’t omit this brilliant spoof:
“Warning for SNP over renewable energy”

Please note this amazing litany – and I use the word litany carefully, a verbal repetition to inculcate belief – includes only those where the deliberate practice of repetitive coupling of “independence” and “warning” has been captured by being written on the website; there are hundreds of other examples of broadcast, spoken use of the words “Warning” and “Scottish independence” in the same sentence by the BBC.

The presentation of every one of the above stories was in the most tendentious and anti-independence manner conceivable. They have all been countered and comprehensively rebutted.

By contrast, there are no BBC headlines that promote positive claims about Scottish Independence. You will look in vain for headlines that say “Yes campaign says independent Scotland will be eighth richest country in the world” or “Official GERS report shows Scotland’s public finances much healthier than those of the UK”. Such headlines just do not exist. Reporting Scotland or Newsnight Scotland has never, never been led by a positive story about independence. It has been led on dozens of occasions by the negative.

It astonishes me that even the use of the most obvious and blatant state propaganda techniques by the BBC do not result in any serious reaction from the political establishment. I repeat my call on Alex Salmond to request the intervention of the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE to monitor the referendum and in particular to start immediately Phase 1 media monitoring. I am writing to Alex Salmond and to Chris Patten – both of whom at different times have been guests in my home -to seek a meeting on this issue of BBC bias.

136 thoughts on “BBC the New Hammer of the Scots

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  • Aplinal

    Ah, events have overtaken my post! I really should have finished it before the coffee not after! Still the point stands 😉

  • Komodo

    Fair enough, Kempe. Actually, Thatcher started the opt-out rot, I believe, although she was, admiitedly, vigorously opposed to means-testing state pensions. For the following reason:

    Lady Thatcher said: “For years, as a young MP, I was a junior minister for pensions and the money people paid into their pensions they got out in their pensions in their old age.

    “Not now. This government has put a means-test of old age pensions, so that thousands and thousands of people who paid contributions all their lives are not getting their pension.”

    Whereas private enterprise….achieves exactly the same result.

  • Komodo

    If I had a license (no TV), I wouldn’t cancel it. Because that is exactly what Murdoch, Dacre and the Barclays would like me to do. Bad as the BBC sometimes is, they’re worse.

  • Chris2

    “What worries me, is that the BBC are trading on their (formerly) good name and despite the obvious propaganda and one-sided reporting, most people will continue to believe every single word they say.”

    Not unlike The Guardian. Or, for that matter, The NY Times and Washington Post: credibility is an asset built up in good times and usefully diminished when things get tough.

    And things are getting very tough indeed: living standards are being cut wherever cuts are still possible before the bone is reached.

    And any resistance is being punished severely, the days of the dignified march to Trafalgar Square, while the police keep a respectful distance, unless they see the chance to snatch a few anarchists, are over. Union stewards are blacklisted, strikes are banned.

    The capitalist world is teetering on the brink of the latter day souped up version of fascism. Mussolini would fit in easily in today’s Europe, life in Italy in the 1920s will soon begin to look rather enviable.
    Unless, of course, we all do something about it.

  • guano

    I’m surprised to find you conversant with religious ideas – litany. What about doing a few subhanallahs, alhamdulillahs or astaghfirullahs while you’re at it and when it comes to the real fight for separation a few Allahu Akbars for good measure?

  • Jay

    Fascism would work applied gently as to create efficiency and production in the marketplace.

    Chris the fascism we have is not free market capitalism as there is momopolies and a the nankers at the Fed are lending to create more monopolies.

    The news spun out as usual is more bad news, bad news for Scotland as is shown; whether the figures are correct, don’t expect good from our media to speak of the positibes of a independent Scotland.

    Media are not in the good new business.

    Any news on the vote on the apparently destructive chemicals being voted to help save bees.
    Now fascism may be applied there to save bees we all consider our food consumption in return a better environment.
    we have to be strict for heaven’s sake.

  • Kempe

    “Fair enough, Kempe. Actually, Thatcher started the opt-out rot, I believe, although she was, admiitedly, vigorously opposed to means-testing state pensions. ”

    Sure. The real problem came after the Maxwell affair of 1991. After that government accounting rules prevented a pension fund from being worth more than, I think, 110% of it’s liabilities. The aim was to stop companies using pension funds as tax-free savings accounts, the effect has been to make it impossible for funds to build up enough cash during boom periods to see them safely through the downturns.

  • doug scorgie


    Re: Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE to monitor the referendum and in particular to start immediately Phase 1 media monitoring.

    I e-mailed the SNP about this some time ago and I got a “reassurance” that everything was in place that needed to be in place to ensure fair campaigning.

    I don’t know if that was complacency on their part but they didn’t seem interested.

  • Roderick Russell

    @ Komodo – “It astonishes me that even the use of the most obvious and blatant state propaganda techniques by the BBC do not result in any serious reaction from the political establishment.”

    The BBC has always been the voice of the London Establishment on things that matter to that establishment – that’s its job. The right wing / left-wing debate is only for issues that the establishment doesn’t care about much. Rupert Murdoch tweeted “no such thing as a free press in the UK” – and the Centre-Left media is just as influenced as the right wing media (hence all their attacks on Wikileaks, etc.).

  • geoffrey

    I suspect that the real evaluation of Scotlands viability as an independant country depends,more than anything else,on it’s share of the liabilities of the two Scotish banks,RBS and HBOS.
    Not a discussion they’d want to have in London either,we might all end up having our pocket money taken away from us,not just the Scots.

  • doug scorgie

    Abe Rene
    29 Apr, 2013 – 11:39 am

    “Perhaps the reason why there are no articles on the BBC website supporting Scottish independence is that it really is a bad idea.”

    If you think it is a bad idea why not explain yourself and make a contribution to the debate?

  • Fred

    “don’t recall the BBC issuing dire warnings while everybody and his dog was closing down or robbing company pension schemes during the last few years:”

    So did the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Scotland issue a report on the subject which the BBC failed to publicise?

    The BBC just reported what a reputable Scottish institution asked them to report as did many other news outlets.

    It’s plain common sense that there are two outcomes to the referendum, either Scotland gains independence in which case there will be a lot of changes which the people need to be warned about or things will stay the same, which people don’t need to be warned about. To claim that because the BBC only warns about what will happen if the SNP succeed means they are biassed is nonsense, pure Nationalist propaganda.

  • Juteman

    The BBC doesn’t report what will happen in an independent Scotland.
    They report only what Unionists say will happen

  • Rump

    Warning: England to become even more of a powerless pissant US suckup when Scotland leaves

  • Alison Lindsay

    Excellent work. We need more people scrutinising the BBC’s every word. George Orwell explains so well in ‘Animal Farm’ how misappropriating language is indoctrination. This began in Scotland when gaelic was first made illegal. At times I get so distraught that, obliged to keep my sanity, I switch off.

    Thank you,
    Alison Lindsay

  • MJ

    “It’s plain common sense that there are two outcomes to the referendum, either Scotland gains independence in which case there will be a lot of changes which the people need to be warned about or things will stay the same, which people don’t need to be warned about”

    Given that the SNP is proposing to keep the BBC, the monarchy and the pound, and to join NATO and the EU, it seems as though it has a preferred third option in which Scotland gains independence but everything stays the same (except fingers crossed there’ll be a bit more cash around because of the oil revenues).

  • Cryptonym

    I don’t think the BBC in Scotland realise yet that the people’s tolerance for this has snapped irreparably, a breaking point, a one-way red line if like you like, has been crossed. I wouldn’t single out individuals, Magnusson’s roots I believe are part-Icelandic, so she shouldn’t have a dog in this race; there is simmering internal dissent and as well as rumours of a pro-independence blacklist, if recent redundancy plans seem to single out impartial or pro-indy staff, it could well land them in some tribunal difficulties. I think there is to be some sort of demo/street party in Glasgow on May 18th. See -and the astonishing quote there from BBC Towers: “we are not in an official referendum campaign and therefore do not have to balance it out between yes and no”. Many would say we are and have been since the August 2014 date was announced. At least they are honest about their dishonesty, but balance for them means three or more unionists, brow-beating and shouting over one Independence supporter or SNP MP/MSP. More than half of any primetime news program is any case taken up with ramming a ghastly minority sport – football – down our throats, of little interest to the over-whelming majority, second to that comes anything vaguely royal -the witterings and photo-ops of Betty Battenburg/Guelph or her spawn. Murder stories and publicity for depraved gangster’s memoirs are favourite subjects too, though the Daily Record has this market mostly sewn up. A recent high point was Jackie Bird having to read out the story of the questioning by police of her husband Bob Bird (a News International/Murdoch exec.) in connection with the NoTW and phone hacking, on what specific subject was not given (possibily relating to Sheridan), and I believe enquiries are still ongoing. Shortly after this she was reported to have collapsed, was on life-support and at death’s door, but recovered remarkably overnight. It’s tragic when the BBC and/or the media itself is the story rather than the wider world, injustice, highlighting the criminality and ineptitude of the powerful and holding them to account.

    You missed one archetypal anti-independence story -aired last week, on the instigation of some lone religious crackpot, we were told an independent Scotland would have to have a re-coronation ceremony of sorts for Queen Betty, I don’t know how the presenters can keep a straight face reading this crap to camera, short of partial lobotomy, it is only a matter of time I think before someone on air lets rip and storms out.

    On a positive note I loved this article by an 18-year-old Dundee student:

  • David Milligan - a very Sovereign Scot

    Thank you Craig, any help that you can give will be crucial to a positive outcome in this matter. And we certainly do need the help. The demonstrations won’t work and are an open invitation to “agent provocateurs” to cause a scuffle and as a result, the BBC would have “Nutter Nationalists” played out on primetime TV from now until 2016.

    We have been looking for a way around the problem and I even started a facebook page called “Push the BBC off Pacific Quay” which was set up to feed evidence of BBC bias and propaganda tactics to the international media. We never got any responses though, no matter how we tried. The only way open to us now (apart from your idea) is to attack the BBC at a grass roots level, using education to change the perceptions of people who sleepwalk their way through the BBC news bulletins. We seek to educate individuals to recognise propaganda and bias when it happens. It will be a slow process though. Unless we can get those that are taught to educate the next ten people. That’s a long shot though.

    I can only say I’m glad that we have you in our corner.

    Kindest regards,

    David Milligan – a very Sovereign Scot

  • Komodo

    Here’s John Humphrys behaving badly with the Greens this morning:

    Note the introductory statement delivered authoritatively (‘true’), followed unemphatically by its qualification (‘I’ve got to say this’)

    He proceeds to interrupt and obfuscate, goading Ms Bennett to the point where nothing coherent is allowed to emerge. His fury is aroused by the term ‘environmental justice’, for some reason.

    I get the feeling the Establishment is feeling a mite beleaguered. Of course, they know the truth – the economy is a basket case, and the party days are definitely over. Fear is beginning to show.

  • Keir Liddle

    I just used google site search ( if any was wondering how to do that) and found 3,870 results for “Scottish + independence + warning” and 16,200 for “Scottish + independence”.

    Though I went through the first five or so pages of google results on the second search and at best found one article reporting Robertsons challenge to Better Together to return Ian Taylors donation and a couple of neutral articles about the referendum.

    I also noted, and I stress this is not an unbiased systematic overview of all the results (I don’t have time for that – but really someone should consider doing it) the “interesting” use of “scare quotes” in a number of articles when the SNP position was being reported or something positive about independence was being discussed…

    Is there anyone out there who could do a scrape of the BBC news site for all the articles, blogs and stories relating to independence?

    With that downloaded and placed into one file it should be possible to test whether this bias exists using software.

  • muttley79

    The BBC in Scotland are not just reporting on the referendum, they are actively taking the side of the No campaign. The truth is they have always been hostile to the SNP and independence. We know it and they know it. One thing that is worth mentioning is that there is usually a rare period when BBC Scotland journalists ask pointed question of Unionists in Scotland. We saw this when Brewer interviewed Sarwar, and Lamont had an even tougher interview last week. Other than that it usually just almost surreal bias from BBC Scotland against independence. Their coverage of the 2011 elections was unwittingly hilarious. They looked as shocked as their buddies in Scottish Labour!

  • paul h

    Good luck Craig! I too am surprised more hasn’t been done by YES to, overtly, tackle what we’re all seeing. The debate seems to be being led astray, buried in negativity and nonsense and indeed shut down before it’s really begun. So yeah good luck, hope your efforts succeed.

  • Herbie

    I’d agree that the BBC have been and will be opposing Scottish independence. They will be doing this because they’re their master’s voice.

    It is extremely naive to assume that the question of Scottish independence is merely one of the larger number of votes on the day winning the argument.

    What you’re seeing now is but a mild use of soft power.

    Were there to be any indication that a vote on the day may be lost by Unionism then you’ll certainly come to better understand the Irish experience.

    If this isn’t appreciated by the proposers of Scottish independence then they simply aren’t ready for independence.

  • Frazer

    Craig…fuck the lot of them I say…I sincerely hope that all Scotland will vote for Independance so we have a chance to collectively shove our decision up the arse of those bastards in London. I live for the day I can watch the shock and horror of those poxy politicians when they realise thier day is over. Oh and when we nationalise all the pseudo royal family’s holdings north of the border and open them up to the public as well !!! I suggest that we bring back the ancient tradition of burning failed ursurers at the stake as well !

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